CarShowroom.com.au first sampled the Audi A3 e-tron on Hamilton Island just over 12 months ago.
On our initial drive we only had a short opportunity to drive a left hand drive model on the runway of the Hamilton island airport.
Fast forward to the national media launch in Bowral NSW.
Audi A3 e-tron Overview
The Audi A3 e-tron is available in a single model line-up priced from$62,490 plus on-road costs. The price also includes the installation of a charge-box at the buyers location of choice. The charger uses 16-amp, single-phase power to recharge in just 2.5 hours versus standard 10-amp household charge from a conventional socket that takes about 5 hours.
Key Features of the Audi A3 e-tron include:
- LED headlights
- 17” alloy wheels
- rear view camera
- dual zone climate control
- MMI navigation place
- Parking System plus
- Sports leather Multifunction steering wheel
- Paddle shifters
- Audi drive select
- Leather appointed upholstery
Audi A3 e-tron Engine
The A3 e-tron comes with a 110kW 1.4 TFSI engine and 75kW electric motor with drive via a new six-speed S tronic transmission, total combined output is 150kW/350Nm.
It’s no slow coach either with the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron completing the zero to 100km/h in just 7.6 seconds. It can also reach 130km/h in electric only mode.
Audi claim that the Audi A3 e-tron uses only 1.6l/100kms and can cover 920kms on a single battery charge and full tank of fuel.
Using just the electric motor the Audi A3 e-tron can travel 50km on a single charge. On a 139km economy challenge we managed real world fuel economy figures of 2.8litres per 100km.
To can select the drive mode via a dashboard switch which allows you to choose one of four modes. You can choose from ‘Electric Drive’ (EV) which has a range of 50kms; ‘Use Battery Charge’ (hybrid auto – this is the setting you would most commonly use); ‘Retain Battery Charge’ (hybrid hold – uses the petrol engine and keeps the battery charged); ‘Increase Battery Charge’ (where the engine is a generator).
Audi A3 e-tron Interior
Nothing futuristic to see here, the interior of the Audi A3 e-tron is just like any other Audi in the range – top notch.
There are a few additional buttons and dials for the EV elements but nothing scary or overwhelming.
Inside you will find the S-Line interior set-up that sees the Audi A3 e-tron come with flat-bottom sports steering wheels, shapely seats, abundant leather and Alcantara roof lining.
The Audi A3 e-tron still has plenty of real world luggage space coming in at 280-litres with the rear seat in-place and up to 1,120-litres when folded, which is only 100 litres less than non EV Audi A3.
Audi A3 e-tron Exterior & Styling
To most people the Audi A3 e-tron will look like any other Audi A3 on the road.
However the Audi A3 e-tron receives an exclusive grille with 14 chrome slats, S-line front bumper and S-Line side skirt and rear diffuser. The 17” alloy wheels are also exclusive to A3 e-tron.
When looking at the rear of the Audi A3 e-tron you might notice something missing the rear tailpipe has been hidden.
Audi A3 e-tron On the Road
Audi Australia set us a 139km fuel economy challenge from Bowral to Sydney Airport on a mixture of country, highway and urban roads to see how close we could get to the 1.6l per 100km fuel usage claim.
My partner and I agree to use all of the electric power first then recharge the battery in the middle part of our journey then finish off with EV power in peak hour airport traffic.
Heading out of Bowral with EV mode selected we had the air conditioning switched off to maximise EV range which meant the inside of our car was very warm. We managed to achieve at least 50km under pure EV mode before switching the Audi A3 e-tron to “Increase Battery Charge” mode which saw our fuel consumption jump from zero to 4.0litres per 100km.
With the battery back to full charge we switch the drive mode back to ‘Electric Drive’ for the final 50km run in to the airport. The fuel consumption slowly drops from a peak of 4.0 litres to a final figure of 2.8litres per 100km, not bad but still 1.2litres off the claimed figure.
The Audi A3 e-tron comes with low-rolling resistance Pirelli tyres and an additional 200kg worth of weight over the standard A3 Sportback that makes the e-tron a little less dynamic on the road than standard petrol version. Even with this minor criticism the Audi A3 e-tron still offers outstanding performance and safety that you except from Audi.
Audi A3 e-tron Issues
We didn’t get any where near the 1.6l per 100km claimed fuel consumption figure even when driving with the lightest of acceleration methods.
Audi A3 e-tron Competition
There is the BMW i3 rex is priced at $69,900 and has a claimed range of approximately 240-340km, some 600km less than the Audi A3 e-tron.
Another hybrid vehicle to consider is the Lexus CT200h (from $37,990) it costs considerably less than the Audi A3.
Audi A3 e-tron Verdict
The Audi A3 e-tron is a great example of how easy it can be to live with an electric hybrid vehicle. If you regularly only travel less than 50km a day then you can do your daily commute by only using electric power.
When the need arises to travel great distances the traditional combustion engine is there to save the day. It’s like having two cars in one.
However the Audi A3 e-tron is similar to the first smartphone or smartwatch the earlier adopters will love them but the majority of people wont entertain the idea of owning one until the costs come down and EV vehicles become the norm.
Those who do adopt earlier will pay a premium but they will also be rewarded with a fine example of cutting edge technology.